Welcome to the website for St Mary's Church in Tenby! St Mary’s Church Tenby leads the Rectorial Benefice of Tenby - a collection of churches who strive to serve our local people and also the many thousands who visit us each year. We belong to the Diocese of St Davids in the Church in Wales and we hope people of all backgrounds and traditions will find a warm welcome here.
We recently joined up with the churches of St Julian's and St Annes to form The Tenby Group of Churches. We try to provide a variety of services in styles to suit different tastes, from the formal and traditional through to more modern and youth-orientated worship – always acknowledging our Anglican heritage. We have a strong commitment to children and young people, to pastoral care, to lay ministry and to our strong musical tradition.
Above all we believe that Church life should be enjoyable and exciting, that the Church is a great celebration of God’s love, a celebration into which everyone is invited through Christ’s death and resurrection. Come and join us!
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NEWS & CALENDAR
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TAKE A TOUR OF ST MARY'S
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ARCHAEOLOGICAL FINDS UNDER ST. MARY`S
St. Mary`s stands on a Carboniferous Limestone plateau. This hard rock is some 350 million years old. It would have been travelled on by pre historic people who settled, farmed, and possibly buried their dead under these rocks.
The discovery of the four quatrefoils (two on the north side and two on the south side) resulted in a most interesting archaeological find. On the north side there is a burial ground under the Church of an unknown age but could be between Pre- Historic to Medieval. The remains of a rubble stone wall inside part of the existing north wall is probably the remnant of an earlier church; one of several churches likely on this site which pre date the present St. Mary`s. On the south side there are two interesting burial chambers which could possibly be Bronze/Iron Age.
It is of great significance to the history of the Church that we recognise that in the 5thC an early religious building may have stood on this site. It is also significant that a 9thC “oaken” church called St. Brigid`s (Saint for the sick and ill) survived here. The arrival of the Irish Celtic people and missionaries from Ireland was a huge influence on the coming of Christianity to Wales. The cult of St. Brigid spread all over Pembrokeshire, even to the remotest parts of West Wales.
The arrival of the Normans in the 11thC changed everything. Any building on this site would have been modified. BUT in doing so the Normans and later Tudor builders saw the importance of what was underneath their feet and covered and preserved it.
This study is very much a work in progress.
Delyth Williams, St Mary's Historian
The St Mary's family is comprised of a wonderful array of groups who bring so much to our church community. Click on the buttons below to find out more.
ST MARY'S CHOIR
There has been a robed choir at St Mary’s since 1869 – over 150 years. In 2022 we have a choir of about 20. We are always learning something new, as well as performing old favourites. Our choice of music spans the centuries, from Bach, Tallis and Handel right up to John Rutter and Howard Goodall. We sing at the 10.00 am Eucharist service every week and we vary the Eucharist settings weekly as well as adding an introit, a psalm and a motet.
At the major church festivals the choir plays a big part in enhancing the worship. Christmas, Easter and Harvest are great opportunities for us to sing traditional music and to surprise the congregation with something new.
We are always delighted to welcome new members. Our rehearsals are usually from 5.00 pm to 6.30 pm on Thursdays. If you would like to try singing with us then just come along to one of these rehearsals, or telephone Mark (07476 095185), Judy (01834 843316) or John (01834 843842).
ST MARY'S SOUPERMEN
St Mary’s Soupermen is a group of like-minded men who enjoy a unique camaraderie resulting in many successful events put on for the Church community and beyond. These include several “feasts” such as Harvest Suppers and |Christmas meals. Indeed over the covid period Christa meals were delivered to various household. Other events such as film evenings and religious events have proven very popular. We are in our 13th year and, God willing, will continue to serve the community for a few years yet. If any man wishes to join this band of “marry” men please contact Terry Evans (07796 084003) – you will be very welcome.
ST MARY'S BELL RINGERS
We have 8 change ringing bells here in St Mary's, Tenby, which you can hear being rung usually before services and in celebration of church festivals, royal occasions and weddings. The 8 ‘change ringing’ bells of which 4 were cast in 1789, 3 in 1888 and 1 in 1951. They hang in a tower which is over 800 years old and stands 152 ft tall to the top of the spire Change ringing requires both physical and mental ability. It takes most ringers several years to become sufficiently skilled to ring our bells.
Each bell is given a number, from 1–8, and is rung by a single ringer. A ‘change’ is a sequence of these numbers where each bell rings once. The order or sequence is changed and each bell rings again. St Mary's bells are in the key of F sharp. The smallest 'treble' bell weighs just over four hundredweight, while the largest 'tenor' bell weighs twelve and a half hundred weight.
ST MARY'S, TENBY HAND BELL RINGERS
St Mary’s Handbell group was established over 20 years ago by the late Mr Alec Freeman together with Dr John Harrison who has been our guide and Musical Director from the start. We have around 12 – 15 members in the group who meet in Church House on Wednesday evenings between 7.15 – 9.00pm.
We take part in services and perform in concerts in churches around the local area, as well as charitable concerts in other venues locally to support other organisations. In the summer we entertain visitors in Tudor Square and in the winter, we are busy celebrating Christmas in churches, nursing homes and local hotels who host turkey and tinsel weekends. Our own chosen charity is Ty Hafan and so each year there is usually at least one concert and a coffee morning in support of this worthy cause.
We are always looking for new members. Some musical knowledge (however rusty!) is helpful, but by no means essential. All the music is colour coded, to help those starting from scratch, and many of us began as complete novices.
A warm welcome will be waiting for you.
Just ring Sandy Fryer (01834 844495) or drop in to one of our rehearsals and see what we get up to.
ST MARY'S MOTHERS' UNION
Members of St. Mary’s Mothers’ Union are delighted that meetings are again being held on a regular basis in Church House and that we are able to invite speakers and guests to join us. Meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 2pm. We begin each meeting with a hymn and a short MU service, during which the MU prayer is always said. The service is followed by a presentation from an invited speaker or by a group activity. Light refreshments are served and everyone enjoys catching up with each other’s news and views.
We continue to offer support to Plant Dewi through the collection box system and with their Baby Bundle project. Clothes and equipment are regularly delivered to the Hwb in Pembroke Dock and generous gifts have been made to this cause by the local Tesco store, via their Charity Coordinator. As always, MU ladies support all church activities and are regularly called upon to provide the magnificent baked goods for which we are famous in the locality! At each meeting members contribute dry and tinned food items for the Pembrokeshire Foodbank and these goods are delivered to their central store in Narberth, from where food is distributed throughout the county. Many MU members also make regular cash donation to support PATCH and the branch which is run in Tenby benefits from goods regularly purchased with these funds. Both of these foodbanks have recently received generous donations from the St. Mary’s Deacon’s Fund.
One of our most recent speakers was Dean Flood, who is the Coordinator of the newly established Home Share scheme. Dean spoke passionately about the situation in Pembrokeshire regarding the rising numbers of homeless people and the way in which Pembrokeshire Care Society is able to give assistance to many individuals who find themselves in need of practical help with housing and accessing the benefits system. Pembrokeshire Care Society has recently received a substantial donation from St. Mary’s as part of the annual Charitable Giving commitment. In the coming autumn session we will be welcoming Shelly from Ty Hafan, David Padfield, who will be speaking about effective communication, and a local PCSO officer, helping us to keep ourselves safe!
The first meeting of the new autumn session of MU will take place on 20th September at 2pm when Holy Eucharist will be celebrated in church by our Rector, Canon Andrew Grace.
Here is a photo from last term when Dean Flood was presented with a cheque via the St. Mary's Charitable Giving for the charity Pembrokeshire Care Society.
FRIENDS OF ST MARY'S
“The Friends”, launched at the Memorial Flower Festival in 2011, is an organisation that aims to draw together individuals, corporate groups and parishes from across the world who wish to support and belong to the mission and ministry of St Mary’s Church.
At St Mary’s we are conscious that we have a wide and extended family far beyond our local worshipping congregation. The residents of Tenby in general have a high regard for St Mary’s as an ancient historic site of great importance, and we receive many visitors from all over Wales and the UK – indeed, from all over the world. Tenby and Pembrokeshire in general attract many visitors on an annual basis, and in particular our magnificent church building, dating back at least 800 years – the largest ancient parish church in Wales – is a focal point for many visitors who return to us year after year, and we want all these – locals and visitors alike - to feel that they belong to our church community and are a part of our mission and witness here.
Anyone can become a member of the Friends of St Mary's. Membership for individuals is £10 per year. Corporate Groups or Parishes are invited to contribute £20 per year. Life Membership for individuals is £100. All members are encouraged to use Gift Aid, with cheques payable to “The Friends of St Mary’s”.
To become a Friend is very simple. Please fill in the form below and send it, with your contribution, to the Rector.
Easter Lunch 2023
We had a magnificent Easter Dinner on Sunday. Thank you so much our Soupermen (and Souperwomen). It was a real church family sitting down together and enjoying a beautiful meal and sharing our friendship.
St Mary's Choir Annual Lunch 2023
St Mary’s Choir had their long-awaited Annual Lunch yesterday at the Giltar Hotel on 29th January 2023. A great time was had by all.
Take a look at the range of items available for sale inside the church, in aid of the Friends of St Mary's
such as Roz's Ramblings Calendar available for £10, plus other items including Christmas Cards.
Revd Canon Andrew Grace
Youth & Families Worker
Play some of our videos below. You can click on the playlist icon in the player window to view the selection.